David the Good generously offered a free copy of the Audible version of his book read by him in exchange for an honest review of his work and I’m happy to share my review.
Create your own Florida Food Forest by David the Good
Book review by Erin Cross in Central Florida zone 9b
David the Good’s guide to creating a Florida food forest is an optimistic and energetic approach to gardening in an area that most gardeners find daunting. His conversation style writing and reading of the book make the information easily understood and applied. After listening to just a few chapters I was ready to head outside with a shovel and start planting my own food forest, and you will be too. I was encouraged by the good news that in spite of the sand, sun, nematodes and hoards of bugs ready to feast on your prized traditional gardens, there are plants that will not only thrive, but outcompete the bugs and woes of traditional veggie gardens (and with much less input from the gardener too!)
Even if you aren’t ready to kiss your lawn goodbye and let your intentional food forest take over, you will still find good gardening advice and principles to plant by. This is also true if you live in a deed restricted neighborhood and aren’t allowed to have a wild looking landscape. I don’t have a food forest in my backyard, but I did learn how to apply food forest principles to densely and diversely plant my 10th of an acre lot with a variety of plants that grow with minimal care.
Florida is a wild state that would gladly revert back to a natural forests without the constant interference of man. David the Good teaches how to use this tendency to our advantage rather than trying to fight it.
I have read Totally Crazy Easy Florida Gardening and I recommend buying a print copy of that book to go along with the audio version of Create Your Own Florida Food Forest because it will give you much of the information contained in the appendices of this book (which you will want to reference) in addition to even more practical tips of gardening in Florida. If you also want to garden as organically as possible, Food Forest will teach you how to rely on other plants to do the work of insect control, fertilizing and conserving water. This is an excellent book and I strongly recommend it!
I have applied his principle of dense and diversely planting this 10ft x 2ft area of my garden with two Ischia Figs (on either end), four Dwarf Black Everbearing Mulberries (center), some Sweet Alyssum as ground cover (left), a yellow Mum as some smaller bush and insect plant (right), and Passionflower Vine aka Maypop (barely visible center front) that I collected from the empty lot next to Lowes where they were selling it inside (Ha!) that will become the vining layer along my picket fence (not yet built) that separates the garden from the yard.
If I had listened the Ag Extension office or Lowes, I would only plant one of the figs in this entire 8ft x 10ft mulched area you see. But I have a little yard and big plans, so I’m going with David the Good’s approach and planting food forest style. I also waited until the plants were the twigs you see from being dormant before buying them. I got them for 1/3 the original price. I’m starting papaya from seed in the background and the the Passionflower Vine was free, I just had to suffer the gawking stares from passersby as my 8mo pregnant self parked the minivan in and walked around the vacant lot to collect my plants. It was good fun.